GW set to defend Potamac

The GW Invitational Crew Classic has always been the official regatta of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It has always been one of the largest faces in collegiate rowing and has always included top-ranked crews.
None of this will change for this year’s race, but the GW rowers do hope one thing will be different at the 16th annual invite – they hope to win.
“Every year we watch our coach put medals around other girls necks,” senior women’s rower Molly Hueller said. “This is our year.”
Neither the men nor women have ever won the Invitational in its 15 years of existence. The last time the men’s team made it to the grand final was in 1997, while the women have had potential the past two years but have not been contenders, Hueller said.
But this year looks promising for both teams. The men come into the regatta undefeated with two victories against the University of Virginia and at the Occoquan Sprints.
“We have an undefeated season so far, so all eyes are on our varsity eight,” senior Vic Marwin said. “We are looking for a top three score and we have a good chance to medal and good chance to win.”
The women also come into the Invitational with a strong team. In the past, the University of Virginia and the U.S. Naval Academy have dominated the regatta but senior captain Tracy Kusnir said she is confident about her team’s abilities this year.
“This definitely feels like the strongest year,” Kusnir said.
The women finished second behind Boston University at last weekend’s Playfair cup, the closest the Colonials have ever come to beating the Terriers. Hueller said the finish was a strong indication that her team will do well at its home invite.
Women’s head coach Steve Peterson said victory is very possible for both teams and said such a win “would be huge.”
This year’s race will be held Saturday on the Potomac River, starting at the Three Sisters’ Rock (a mass of rocks 1,000 meters upstream from the Key Bridge), ending 2,000 meters later at Washington Harbor.
As many as 13 schools from the East Coast and Midwest regions will be competing against the Colonials, including top-ranked schools Temple, Navy, Georgetown and UVA.
“The tradition has always been to bring in some of the best crew teams in the nation,” Peterson said.
The Invitational is about more than the races however, Marwin said.
“There is big emotional impact. It’s our home course, it’s the race we sponsor and there’s a lot of serious competitors so we have to defend our home water,” he said. “We know we only have a limited number of GW Invites to race and a few chances to win, especially with the speed we have with this boat.”
Because of the race’s prestige, many alumni and families of GW rowers and their competitors attend the event. Marwin said crews and their families set up tents along the river to picnic and watch the race, and Washington Harbor restaurants like Tony and Joe’s and Sequoia are packed with spectators.
The Invitational is an all day event, beginning with the preliminary races at 9:30 a.m. At 12:30 the first heats begin and depending on the results of the first heat the crews will move onto either the grand finals or the petite finals, both beginning around 3:30 p.m.
The men will enter a team in the freshman eight, the junior varsity eight and a varsity eight while the women will race two freshman eights, a junior varsity eight, a varsity eight and a varsity four.
-Lauren Silva contributed to this report.

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